Spotlight on local author Carol Thomas

I often spotlight books and authors, but they’re aways either children or adults, but Carol Thomas, from my local writing network Chindi, has published in both. So I thought we’d chat a bit about how she flips between genres.

Which came first, writing romance or writing for children?

Writing romance, and since gaining my publishing contract with Ruby fiction for my novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, it has been my main focus. However, I am a mum of four, I have two grandchildren, and I worked as a playgroup leader and primary school teacher for over fifteen years. Children are a very big part of my life and have a way of sneaking into my novels.

I often record the fabulous comments made by my own children. I love their inquisitive minds and how they look at the world. When the opportunity arises, I thread their words into my books. For me, this adds authenticity to the voices of the children I am portraying. In The Purrfect Pet Sitter, and its sequel Maybe Baby, the supporting cast of children (and pets) inspire some of my favourite comedic moments.

Regarding Finding a Friend, my first children’s book, the idea came to me in such a way that I couldn’t resist writing it. After reading a bedtime story to my then five-year-old son, I was looking at a photograph of him with our much-loved chocolate Labrador who had passed away at the grand old age of sixteen. The two of them shared a close bond, and I thought how lovely it would have been if they had grown up together. The first verse sprung to mind, and I said it aloud to my son. I kept going, hurriedly noting it down soon after.

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Once I had the verses written, I worked on it, deploying my knowledge of developing early literacy skills to ensure the language was rhythmic, rhyming and repetitive. I wanted the text to inspire children to join in, anticipate and repeat words and phrases. It was a joy to write.

I have subsequently written two other children’s books that are awaiting illustrations. It is hard to balance the time, with the demands of writing and promoting my romance novels too, but I hope to get them out later this year.

What advice would you give to writers who are planning to write across genres?

If I could go back, I would put my children’s book out under a pen name and have separate social media pages in readiness for it. I didn’t, under the advice of my then publisher who quite rightly stated that as it is the adults who purchase children’s books, it would be them (the followers I had already gained from romance writing) who would be my target audience. However, in reality, this means that my children’s book doesn’t often get the attention it deserves.

I write romance, it is in no way explicit, but still, it is hard to balance posting about Chris Hemsworth inspiring my male lead in Maybe Baby, with posting about my cute picture book about a puppy! So watch this space, when my other books come out, I will endeavour to rectify this.

 

So since I’m getting into holiday mode, tell us about your latest romantic comedy novel:

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Maybe Baby is the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1). While each book can be read as a standalone story, Maybe Baby revisits the characters from The Purrfect Pet Sitter as they move into the next phase of their lives. It is the book of what happens after the happy ever after.

And here’s the blurb:

Just when you thought you had it all worked out …

Best friends Lisa and Felicity think – maybe, just maybe – they finally have everything sorted out in their lives.

Lisa is in a happy relationship with her old flame, and busy mum Felicity has managed to reignite the passion with her husband, Pete, after a romantic getaway.

But when Lisa walks in on a half-naked woman in her boyfriend’s flat and Felicity is left reeling from a shocking discovery, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of surprises!

Amazon Links:

Romance: Maybe Baby

Kids: Finding a Friend

About the author:

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An active member of the Chindi Authors, Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on her next book.

Website and Social Media Links:

Home

http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor

https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

 

Blog:

http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

Oooh a LoveReading4Kids badge!

OK, this is a brag post. I fully admit that. But please bear with me as I’m pretty excited! Eternal Seas just got this award from the awesome book review site LoveReading4Kids …

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If you’d like to check out their Ambassador review click here

Now, I guess I’d better get back to editing the sequel.

Thanks so so much to all my readers – you’re absolutely the best!

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Do you remember play buses as a kid?

I’m thrilled to introduce todays guest, Sue Wickstead, as we recently did a joint creative writing workshop for kids at Crawley WordFest. Sue writes picture books based on the real play buses inspired by her work with the children’s charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association (is it only me that finds that a terrible tongue twister?!?). She’s also written a non-fiction photographic history book about the original bus which is worth a look too.

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If you scroll down, there’s a giveaway competition for one of the books in the series and a free build-your-own-bus toy. Before we get there though, let’s take a look at the first book in the series, Jay-Jay The Supersonic Bus.

I have to say this is quite text heavy for a picture book: it’s really closer to a chapter book. Personally, I’d be tempted to reprint in a chapter book size format rather than laid out as it is in gate big square picture book style, but the illustrations are really lovely, so I would still want them. Ah it’s tricky! I wonder what the pictures would look like converted into black & white? Actually that could give quite a nice image.

Anyway, I reckon this is perfect for that tricky age where the kids are starting to read independently but absolutely insist on lots of pictures. The language itself is simple and straightforward. If you’re bored to tears with Biff and Chip, and who isn’t – can anyone tell me why schools still insist on using this dull and dated series? – then this is well worth a look. Overall, I can see this working really well for KS1 (UK school system – ages 4-7).

Blurb

Jay-Jay the bus is rescued from the dirty scrap yard, where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. Feeling nervous yet excited, he’s taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.

A fictional tale based on a real-life bus ‘Supersonic’, which flew in the imaginations of the many young children who visited it.

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Giveaway to Win a copy of Jay-Jay and the Island Adventure (UK Only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494213/?

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using Rafflecopter.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

And another special offer:A free 3D card bus can be claimed via the website site ‘Enquiry button using ref code JJay

Additional bus models and books also offered as a promotion on request.

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And if you miss out on the giveaway, Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus will be 99p until 22ndApril. Purchase Links –

http://bit.ly/JJKSupersonic– Amazon .co.uk

http://amzn.to/2BxvU2l– Amazon .com

Author Bio

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I’m a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.

For over 20 years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led me to write a photographic history book about it.

I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name.

I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share the story. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

The story has been read in many schools in the south-East of England, where I teach as a cover teacher, it is always well received and certainly different.

Social Media Links –

https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/

Facebook: – Author Page http://bit.ly/2kEEhPq

http://bit.ly/2kXfjdj– Bewbush Playbus

http://bit.ly/2BZiews– Teacher in the cupboard

Twitter https://twitter.com/JayJayBus

 

Exclusive interview with author Claire Fayers

When I’m in schools, I’m often asked for book recommendations, and Claire Fayers’ new novel, Storm Hound, has been top of my list ever since I read it. It has the best opening paragraph EVER!
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So I’m super excited that she agreed to an interview …
What are you working on now? Is there a potential sequel to Storm Hound?
I’m currently working on a couple of new proposals to send in to my publisher. It’s too soon to say which one will be my next book but I’m having great fun playing with ideas. I would love to write a Storm Hound sequel. It’ll be up to my publisher but if Storm Hound does well you never know. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Could you share any childhood pics either of you in the Welsh hills or of you writing?
I wish I could, but my parents didn’t take any pictures of me when I was growing up. All I have is one photograph of me holding my cello after I won the cup for music in primary school. Everyone assumed I’d grow up to be a music teacher. I didn’t know it was possible to be an author back then.
thumbnail_Claire as child
To make up for the lack of photos, here’s a pic of an early story I wrote in school. I liked writing about animals even then!
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And here’s another of me taken last year, sitting on top of Mount Skirrid where Storm fell from the sky.
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Did you have any pets as a child?
Yes, loads. We had guinea pigs, a rabbit, two dogs and a succession of hamsters (not all at the same time, I hasten to add!) But the pet that I truly loved above all others was my cat Mitzi. She was an ordinary black and white moggy. She died when I was about twelve and I didn’t get another cat until I owned my own home, much later. Obviously, I had to write a cat into Storm Hound – look out for Nutmeg.
What are your top tip for parents to encourage their youngsters to write?
Fill your house with books. Make regular trips to the library with your children as a love of writing usually starts with a love of reading. Make up stories with your children. Lead by example and set aside some time to write together. Keep a stash of fun pens and paper in different colours. Don’t correct or criticise your children’s efforts. Encourage them to write letters to relatives (and get the relatives to write back – nothing beats getting your very own letter through the post!)
And before you go, this is a tricky one: Michael Morpugo or Phillip Pullman?
Oh gosh. They are both masters, and their books are so different it’s hard to choose. But my reading (and writing) habits do tend to go towards fantasy so I’d have to say Pullman.
Thanks so much for a fun interview.
Thanks Claire! I didn’t know you played cello and wrote stories about horses as a kid – me too.
If you haven’t come across Claire before, here’s some more info.

Biography

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Claire Fayers grew up in South Wales, studied English at the University of Kent, and is now back in Wales where she spends a lot of her free time tramping around castles in the rain, looking for dragons.

She has worked as a church caretaker, a shoe shop assistant, in accountancy, in health and safety, in IT, and in a library. Only one of these prepared her in any way for life as a full-time author. She works from her home in Cardiff, sharing her workspace with a pair of demanding cats and an ever-expanding set of model dinosaurs. Storm Hound is her fourth book for Macmillan Children’s Books.

Website www.clairefayers.com

twitter @clairefayers

facebook www.facebook.com/clairefayersauthor

 

Blurb

Storm of Odin is the youngest stormhound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies. He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt he finds he can’t keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny.

Enter twelve-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue centre. And suddenly, a number of strange people seem very interested in her and her new pet, Storm. People who seem to know a lot about magic . . .

In Claire Fayers’ electrifying adventure Storm Hound, Jessica starts to see that there’s something different about her beloved dog and will need to work out which of her new friends she can trust.

Anyone for pom pom sushi?

Every time my nephews and nieces get together, we try a new craft activity. They range from 4 to 15 so it’s quite challenging to find something that they’ll all enjoy. Since I’m always searching for new ideas (I actually keep a whole Pinterest board just for this – its become a tradition and the pressure is on for each to be better than the previous one), Let’s Make Pom Poms caught my attention.

I didn’t realise there were so many things you could do with a pompom, although I’m not sure anyone will ever need sushi pom poms? My personal favourite was the key ring but the kids voted for the Easter chicks, and since that’s seasonal, and I had some left over yellow wool from another project, that was easy.

There are other seasonal projects too. The spiders would be a great Halloween project, but I’d use black wool. And the snowman is a must for Christmas.

The instructions in the book are clear and simple. My only criticism is that it could do with measurements so you can make your own cardboard rings (old school style, using a cereal box), rather than having to buy the plastic ones. Cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. And it’s not difficult. As I didn’t want to buy seven rings just for one afternoon activity, I guesstimated. Obviously I miscalculated a bit as our chicks are hens. It was great fun though.

I love a spot of crafting and happily recommend this as a family friendly activity.

Let’s Make Pom Poms

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Fun and easy makes for all the family. Get crafty with pom poms with 15 easy to follow step by step guides. Make your own set of fluffy dice, sushi that looks good enough to eat and an everlasting Christmas tree as well as many other exciting projects

Purchase Links:

UK – https://amzn.to/2PdVBax

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KZLCBPG

 

Author Bio – Katie Scott is a craft and book blogger who lives in the county of Kent, UK. Living at home with her husband and infant daughter, Katie loves nothing more than long evenings in with a good book, a pile of crafting goodies and a very large pot of tea.

Let’s Make Pom Poms is her first crafting book.

Find more work from Katie Scott on her blog: https://www.bloomingfiction.co.uk

Social Media Links –

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bloomingfiction

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/BloomingFiction/

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/bloomingfiction/

Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.co.uk/bfbookblog/pins/

 

 

 

 

(Legal) street art for all ages

“Please bring in some of the art you’ve done at home,” the teacher asks.

That’s going to be a little bit tricky …

Don’t worry, the garage doors were being replaced, and I’m thrilled with my colourful garage interior.

I adore street art. Several years ago Chichester did an amazing street art exhibition. These make a very teenager friendly alternative art tour. Plus I’m always up for a bit of stealth education.

Sadly my favourite, “King of Cats”, was whitewashed over recently by the council following complaints about antisocial behaviour. Personally I’m happy that the Belgian artist, Joachim, has provided a new masterpiece for us to enjoy. The Chichester Observer reported

Joachim’s management said he had been ‘horrified’ to hear his King of Cats mural ‘attracted antisocial behaviour’ within the city of Chichester and took it upon himself to put things right. Knowing that cats can be rather antisocial by nature, Joachim decided to paint ‘The Watchdog’ to watch over the streets and keep the neighbourhood safe.

King of Cats

King of Cats by Belgian artist Joaquim

Back to our budding vandal. It was really no surprise that he wanted a graffiti birthday party. Near Waterloo Station in London is Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel where anyone, armed with a spray can or two, is permitted to make their mark, without getting arrested. The tunnel was originally created by Banksy although his artwork is long gone.

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Luckily, his friends are urban cool, and their parents super chilled, so there was barely a raised eyebrow.

The toughest decision was what to paint over, because all the art was amazing, but eventually the spot was chosen and after a tentative start they all got into it.

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Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

Top tips if you’re thinking of taking the kids

  • buy the cheapest spray paint you can as they race through it
  • painting masks from the DIY store hopefully helped with the fumes, but it was outdoors so it wasn’t too bad
  • surgical gloves are a very good idea! I bought a box of 100 from the local chemist.

The other artists working on the same day were super friendly and showed the kids how they used stencils in their designs.

There are official “street art” walking tours in various towns if you’re interested in exploring but unsure where to start. I was looking at the Shoreditch Street Art tour which I haven’t done but it’s on the list.

And since this is also a book blog, here’s a little bit of bookish news

Purely by coincidence, I just finished reading Revenge on the Rye by Alice Castle about the murder of a street artist, which I highly recommend. I blogged about this a few weeks ago.

 

Migraine health plan handbook and GIVEAWAY

This book caught my eye as my dad suffers from vertigo. He eats a very “traditional” British home cooked diet with zero fast food and limited sugar anyway, so I was curious what changes he could make.

The Migraine Relief Plan 9781572842090

I found the eight-week transition plan made the shift seem entirely manageable: week one is just assessing the current position, then you have a whole week to sort your fridge and another to sort your freezer. Then you tackle changing breakfasts, then lunches then dinners.

There is a checklist of good/ bad foods, but the best bit is the recipes. These are proper easy meals that my family enjoyed. They are American, but conversions are included, and most of the ingredients are recognisable. In fact my only criticism is, as with all cookbooks, I find them hard to use on a kindle.

To prove just how achievable the recipes are, here’s an example …

SALMON, ASPARAGUS, AND THYME OMELET

Makes 2 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 12–15 minutes

Passive time: N/A

Budget friendly: Very

Per serving: 21g protein, 2g carbohydrates, 21g fat, 5g saturated fat, 129mg sodium, 383mg potassium, 0g fiber

You’ll find that omelets are an easy way to get breakfast or dinner on the table. This simple recipe came about when I had just a small amount of baked salmon left over, and we didn’t eat all the asparagus spears the previous night. I’m lucky to have fresh thyme growing in my garden, which adds lovely flavor, but dried thyme also works perfectly. Asparagus is high in insulin, one of the prebiotic fibers that feeds your good gut bacteria, and is another anti-inflammatory powerhouse.

4 ounces (120g) cooked salmon

3–4 spears fresh or frozen asparagus

12 sprigs fresh thyme, or ¼teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

2 eggs

1–2 tablespoons (15–30mL) heavy cream, half-and-half, or coconut milk

1 tablespoon ghee, organic extra virgin olive oil, or extra virgin coconut oil

  1. Flake the salmon into a bowl.
  2. Cut the asparagus into bite-sized chunks and, if using fresh thyme, strip off the leaves (discard the stems).
  3. Whisk the eggs with the cream and add the thyme leaves or dried thyme. Set aside.
  4. Place a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add the ghee, and swirl the pan to coat. Look for the ghee to start to shimmer before adding the asparagus.
  5. Add the asparagus and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Add the salmon and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes until the pieces start to turn golden.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook about 5 minutes until nearly set, tilting the pan if necessary to move unset eggs to the edges.
  8. Slide a flexible spatula under the omelet, loosening it, then fold in half.
  9. Cook another 5 minutes, or until completely set. Serve right away.

COOKS’ NOTE: This is the perfect way to use up leftover cooked salmon, which never tastes good microwaved. Canned, unsmoked salmon with no salt added is a fine substitute. Smoked salmon is not included on the migraine diet because smoked and preserved foods contain tyramine, a monoamine compound that triggers migraine attacks in some people. If using leftover pre-cooked asparagus, add it with the salmon during Step 6.

Reprinted with permission from The Migraine Relief Planby Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, Agate Surrey, 2017

 

Or I bet you can’t resist this …

Happy Book Birthday-all

Giveaway

I’m so excited about this giveaway, I wish I could enter myself as I only had a kindle copy and I really need a paperback for ease of reference.

Exclusive for readers of my Book Blast Blog, you can win either a signed copy of The Migraine Relief Plan for US winners, or an unsigned copy of The Migraine Relief Plan for UK winners. To enter, just follow my blog, and tag @Lexi_Rees and @sweavermph and on a tweet telling us why you would like a copy.

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health

In The Migraine Relief Plan, certified health and wellness coach Stephanie Weaver outlines a new, step-by-step lifestyle approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity.

Using the latest research, her own migraine diagnosis, and extensive testing, Weaver has designed an accessible plan to help those living with migraine, headaches, or Meniere’s disease. Over the course of eight weeks, the plan gradually transitions readers into a healthier lifestyle, including key behaviors such as regular sleep, trigger-free eating, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques. The book also collects resources—shopping lists, meal plans, symptom tracking charts, and kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—to provide readers with the tools they need to be successful.

The Migraine Relief Planencourages readers to eat within the guidelines while still helping them follow personal dietary choices, like vegan or Paleo, and navigate challenges, such as parties, work, and travel. A must-have resource for anyone who lives with head pain, this book will inspire you to rethink your attitude toward health and wellness.

Purchase Linkhttp://bit.ly/MRPlan

Author Bio

The Migraine - VerticalBlueDoor

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. Her recipes have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Parade, and more. She lives in San Diego, CA.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/stephanieweavermph

Twitter.com/sweavermph

Instagram.com/sweavermph